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Delhis Emily Salazar heads in winner over Denair
Second half score leaps Delhi over Denair
Amandeep Sandhu keeps the ball away from her Denair opponents Abbi Dirkse and Katie Oliver during the game Tuesday. Delhi won 1-0. - photo by CANDY PADILLA / The Journal

Delhi and Denair High met on the pitch for the second and final time this season in a Southern Athletic League bout that ended in a one-goal difference thriller.

Delhi freshman Emily Salazar was the difference maker in Tuesday’s game after plugging in the only score of the game with a solid header with less than 20 minutes left in regulation.

“Once we scored the first goal it was one of those things that we didn’t want to lose and knew we had a chance to win and that made it more exciting and for me as well,” said Delhi head coach Armando Salazar. “We don’t have a very strong team this year, but we can play.”

The pressure of Delhi proved to be too much for Denair to handle after crumbling in the second half.

“I think since we had three games in four days last week, the girls were a bit fatigued,” said Denair head coach Cherie Gresham. “So we played a lot and the girls were dead… really.”

Denair has now lost three consecutive games and falls to fifth place in the SAL at 3-5-1.

In their two prior losses before Tuesday’s game, Denair was outscored 10-3.

Delhi improves to 3-4-2, and leaps over Denair for a fourth place spot.

“We have the skills to play a good game but we just string some passes together and then lose it,” said Salazar. “So it won’t be the best until we make more accurate passes, but we definitely pressured more and had a better second half.”

Denair dominated the second half, controlling the ball and handling it on Delhi’s half of the field.

The Coyotes went on a roll in a 25-minute span before halftime hit, amassing over seven shots, six on goal.

Litzy De La Cruz nearly scored—twice—from about 30-plus yards out, but had her shots saved by Delhi’s goalkeeper Jenny Ochoa.

Denair’s Abi Dirkse also saw an open opportunity at the 28th minute, striking a shot from 35-yards out, but the shot clanked off the top crossbar and out for a goal-kick.

In the closing 10 minutes, Delhi’s Diana Cervantes, who had the assist for the goal later on, managed to get a shot off before the whistle blew but Denair’s Selena Ortiz managed to get the save.

“They were tired coming in and in the second half, you could tell they were just done,” said Gresham. “First half we just couldn’t get good shots off, but we maintained possession and we felt confident that we had it in the second half but we didn’t.”

Delhi came in with a new life and pressed harder than they had in the opening 40 minutes, only to finally find a hole in the Denair defense.

It took 20 minutes, when finally at the 60-minute mark, Cervantes was able to place a pass at the head of Emily Salazar, who then headed it in for the eventual game winner.

“We started playing slow and we were just letting them control and pass and in the second half,” said Salazar. “We caught a second wind and pushed a little more and were challenging a bit more and I was also a little more vocal in the second half and that is what helped a little bit.”

The next game for Delhi will be at home against Waterford at 4 p.m. Thursday.

Denair will be on the road against Le Grand at 4 p.m. Thursday.